Mediation is a necessary method in divorce proceedings. It requires a neutral third party to help resolve a dispute. The mediator does not have the power to make a final decision and serves as someone to help two parties reach an agreement.
Divorce brings up feelings of hurt, resentment and overall lack of control. When it comes to splitting up assets, divorcing parties generally have a hard time reaching an agreement. Furthermore, resulting in putting the fate of their possessions in a judge’s hands.If this is your predicament, take a moment to rethink the decision of arguing in front of a judge. Mediation will save divorcing couples thousands of dollars.
Jeff Wittliff is an attorney at Griffith, Young, and Lass in Carlsbad, California and offers some helpful advice on the mediation process. He often encourages his clients to reach an agreement through mediation with the goal of saving money on attorney fees. Wittliff said the savings can be as astronomical as tens of thousands of dollars.
“I explain to them the cost of the trial and how strong their case is,” Wittliff said. “While I generally do not give the odds of winning, I will let them know if the law is on their side on an issue or not.”
Before mediation begins, it is crucial the attorney and client are on the same page. Wittliff advises starting with the easiest issue and working your way towards the harder ones. The client should be on the same page as the attorney regarding issues discussed. Adding in issues or refusing to discuss issues in divorce mediation is a quick way to get the other party to walk away. Consequently, this will not reach a compromise, which is the whole point of the process.
“Start with the easiest issues and work your way towards the harder ones,” Wittliff said. “Once the dam is broken and we get our first agreement, the rest come easier.”
Each party should also have a plan for what they want as an opening offer for each issue as well as knowing their bottom line. Adjusting expectations is necessary in this procedure, attorneys have witnessed divorcing parties spend hours arguing over minor objects and in the end, they give more money to their attorney.
Wittliff recalled a time when a blue watering can was argued over extensively in mediation. The object was valued at five dollars and by the time the couple reached an agreement, they spent more than $1,000 dollars in legal fees.
At GYL we understand the hardships of divorce proceedings and the financial toll it can take. It is our goal to be realistic with our clients and ultimately save them money. We understand some items are worth fighting for and we are here to help our clients walk away feeling as though they have have what truly matters.